French Scholars Lecture Series: ’Interdisciplinary Approaches to Human Enhancement’

The Consulate General of France in Vancouver has partnered with the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies to bring leading French scholars to UBC in a program titled French Scholars Lecture Series. The 6th public lecture will be performed at UBC on November 27th by Dr. Jean Gayon. His talk will focus on "Interdisciplinary Approaches to Human Enhancement".

Academic excellence, Innovative research with a view to interdisciplinarity and effective communication and outreach are key elements to this program (read the brochure from PWIAS).


Next lecture : Interdisciplinary Approaches to Human Enhancement

JPEGDr. Jean Gayon will unpack the semantic content of the term, then address the three meanings that are normally ascribed, namely the improvement of human capacities, the improvement of human nature, and self-improvement. 
The lecture will also distinguish between novel and traditional forms of improvement, with a focus on breeding, the Enlightenment appeals to human progress, and the more classical controversy in ethics regarding self-improvement and the attainment of the perfect life. 
Professor Gayon will imbed his analysis in the history of biology, both evolutionary theory and eugenics. In the course of the lecture, he will address conceptual issues that pertain to natural selection and to microbiology, and draw connections to philosophy of science.

See the brochure for more information.

Date: Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Time: 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Location: Buchanan Building, Block A, Room 103, UBC


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Dr. Yann Moulier Boutang
- Department of Economics, Université de Technologie de Compiègne
Lecture Topic: "Cognitive Capital: Where Political Economy Meets Media Theory"
Host: Dr. Richard Cavell, Department of English, UBC
Visit Dates: February 12-17th, 2013

Date, Venue, Time: February 14th, Room122 Allard Hall, UBC 4:00pm

Pr. Yann Moulier Boutang is Professor of Economics at the Université de Technologie de Compiègne and International Adjunct Professor of the Fernand Braudel Institute at SUNY Binghamton. He is a research collaborator in the Innovation Systèmes Stratégies (ISYS) team, University of Paris 1. He is also editor of the quarterly journal Multitudes. Pr. Moulier Boutang’s research proposes that the current transitional stage in global economics is intimately tied to mediation; he theorizes that the conjunction of these two spheres is producing “cognitive capitalism,” which draws on “the collective intelligence provided by brainpower and computing power,” in the words of Nigel Thrift (Vice-Chancellor, Warwick), who writes the introduction to the translation of Moulier-Boutang’s Cognitive Capitalism. This interfacing of the materiality of economics with the immateriality of mediation provides the key to Moulier Boutang’s work: he proposes that the extension of the human brain via global computer networks valorizes intelligence and innovation and not just information. In this scenario, “material labour does not disappear, but it loses its central role as a strategic asset”; “productivity gains … derive from economies of learning.”

- Lecture Title: “Cognitive Capital: Where Political Economy Meets Media Theory.”
Abstract: Moulier Boutang’s public lecture highlighted the increasing interrelationships of global media networks and economic production. Using Google as an example, the lecture will highlight the tensions between emergent cognitive capitalism and strategies of control and appropriation directed toward it. The lecture further discussed how concepts of labour, property and value are changing within this third phase of capitalism, and why this is a phase of capitalism and not socialism. Finally, the lecture questionned the role of universities in this new learning economy.

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Dr. Marianne Bastid Bruguiere
- President of the Academy of Humanities and Political Sciences; Emeritus Research Professor, National Centre for Scientific Research; member of the Centre for Modern and Contemporary Chinese Studies at the CNRS; Member of the Institut de France
Lecture Topic: “The issue of the frontiers between China and French Indochina: a historical retrospective.”
Host: Dr. Diana Lary, Department of History, UBC

Visit Dates: April 23-30th, 2013

Mme Bruguiere works on the period before and after the 1911 XinHai Revolution (late 19th century to early 20th century); she is one of the top half dozen scholars of the period worldwide. Her long-running, detailed research has produced numerous books and articles. She puts the revolution in China not only into a Chinese context, but also into the context of the spread of revolutionary ideas from France, and the connections between the Chinese revolutionaries and French Indo-China. Mme Bruguiere also looks at the role of individuals in history, in particular the early revolutionaries including Sun Yat-sen, the leader of the revolutionary movement. Mme Bruguiere has done a great deal of work in the field of education and education reform. This was one of the key areas of Chinese influence on France in the 18th Century, which led to the introduction of competitive examinations and a merit-based elite.
Her understanding of the French system led her to focus at one stage of her work on the reform of education in prerevolutionary China. Mme Bruguiere has worked outside the research world. She has been the deputy director of the Ecole Normale Superieure. She has been heavily involved in academic relations between France, China and Taiwan. She holds honorary positions in both places.
- Watch the interview from Dr. Marianne Bastid Bruguiere after her lecture held on April 2013

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Dr. Hervé Chneiweiss
- Centre for Psychiatry and Neurosciences, U894 Inserm, Paris Descartes Medical School, Université Paris Descartes Head of the Neuroscience Paris Seine laboratory CNRS/ Inserm/ University Pierre and Marie Curie.

Lecture Topic: “Better prevent than cure: ethical perspective in neurodegenerative diseases”
Host: Dr. Judy Illes, Director National Core for Neuroethics, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Neuroethics at the University of British Columbia and Faculty in the Brain Research Centre, UBC and Faculty at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.
Visit Dates: June 10-15th, 2013

Hervé Chneiweiss MD PhD is a neurologist and neuroscientist, studying molecular mechanisms involved in glial plasticity and underlying brain tumor development. First trained as a neurologist (gait and movement disorders, Parkinson), he was involved in the neurogenetics of human diseases such as cerebellar ataxias. For the last 15 years his scientific work was dedicated to the biology of astrocytes and their roles in brain tumor progression. He is currently head of the Glial Plasticity group within the Neuroscience Paris Seine laboratory CNRS/INSERM/Pierre and Marie Curie University, and is a Research Director at the CNRS. From April 2000 to April 2002, Dr. Chneiweiss was the adviser for life sciences and bioethics to the French minister for research and technology. His involvement in bioethics led him to publish chronicles in Medecine/Sciences where he has been the chief editor since 2006. He is member of the ethic committee of Inserm (ERMES) and published several books for the lay public including Neurosciences et Neuroéthique Alvik 2006 et L’Homme Réparé Plon 2012.

Lecture Topic: “Better prevent than cure: ethical perspective in neurodegenerative diseases”
Abstract: Diseases affecting the central nervous system are among the main problems of our countries. Modern life stresses on one hand, and ageing on the other, make them an increasing burden. They already represent one third of health costs with a continuous increase. Furthermore very few treatments exist to help patients, and even less for cure. Progress in neuroscience and in genetics opens new avenues for diagnosis and hopefully for prevention.
The department of Neuroscience of the New Institute of Biology Paris Seine at UPMC Paris (headed by Dr. Chneiweiss) is developing basic and preclinical research on psychiatric and neurological diseases. These research endeavours reveal genetic risk factors and new biomarkers that may help an early diagnosis or define a human population that may need more surveillance. They are also raising critical ethical questions such as who will have to be under scrutiny, what is the risk of stigma in the school or workplace, who will have to be treated, and how will associated costs of such a prevention be sustainable?

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Pr. Jean-Louis Barrat
- Department of Physics, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, and Institut Universitaire de France
Lecture Topic: "Multiscale simulation: connecting statistical physics to engineering applications and materials properties."
Hosts: Dr. Joerg Rottler, Department of Physics & Astronomy, and Dr. Chad Sinclair, Department of Materials Engineering, UBC
Visit Dates: September 30-October 6, 2013

Jean-Louis Barrat graduated from Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, and obtained his PhD from University Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris) in 1987. He worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Technische Universität München in theoretical physics and at University of California, Santa Barbara in chemical engineering. After six years as a research associate at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), he took a professor position at the University of Lyon, where he created a research group on modeling in materials science, before becoming the head of the Condensed Matter Laboratory from 2007 to 2010.

In 2011 he moved to the Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Physics at the University Joseph Fourier in Grenoble. His research interests cover application of statistical and computer simulations to various aspects of materials science, and he has made seminal contributions to our understanding of complex fluids, plasticity of glasses and amorphous materials in general. Professor Barrat was a junior member of the Institut Universitaire de France from 1997 to 2002, and since 2009 has been reappointed as senior member. He was awarded the CNRS Bronze Medal in 1991, the Paul Langevin prize (theoretical physics) of the French Physical Society in 2000, and the CNRS silver medal in 2012. He is the author of about 140 publications in international journals and of a textbook. His current research is supported by an advanced research grant of the European Research Council.

Lecture Topic: "Multiscale simulation: connecting statistical physics to engineering applications and materials properties"

Abstract: The development of nanosciences raises new challenges and opportunities for material sciences. One may broadly say that these new challenges fall in two different categories. Firstly, how do the properties of matter evolve as a function of the scale under consideration, and in particular when the dimensions of devices fall into the nanoscale range?
While this question is most often discussed for electronic properties, it also arises for many other usage properties of materials, in particular mechanical, flow or thermal properties. Second, can one make use of a better knowledge of the nanoscale properties to gain a better understanding of, and possibly improve, macroscopic properties of materials that involve internal structures at various scales?

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Dr. Odile Eisenstein
- Institut Charles Gerhardt Montpellier, CNRS, University of Montpellier
Lecture Topic: “Chemistry in the Computer, Leveraging Computational Power for Evolving Approaches in Developing New Chemical Reactions.”
Host: Dr. Laurel Schafer, Professor, Canada Research Chair in Catalyst Development,Department of Chemistry, UBC
Visit Dates: October 5-12th, 2013

Thurs. Oct. 10th, 5 – 7 pm in the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies a Departmental Reception with a Panel Discussion about Women in Chemistry

Dr. Eisenstein is a Directeur de Recherche Class Exceptionnelle at CNRS CTMM at the Université de Montpellier. She has dramatically impacted the field of catalysis research using computational chemistry by establishing many long-standing collaborations with experimentalists, whereby computational and experimental approaches are pursued in parallel to expedite discovery and development. Indeed she is broadly recognized for her breadth of expertise which has succeeded in bringing computational methods to experimental chemists, while simultaneously expanding the understanding of experimental complexity amongst theoreticians. She is a dynamic and engaging researcher and speaker who has visited institutions and conferences around the world to present her cutting-edge work using Density Functional Theory to understand catalytic reactions at the molecular level.
Her computational approaches are recognized as world-leading and consequently she and her team are highly-sought-after collaborators for addressing challenges and research problems. In this work she has received many awards and distinctions since beginning her scholarly career in 1982. She has published over 300 journal articles and she has given over 250 invited lectures, including keynote presentations at leading international meetings. She is a pioneer amongst theoretical chemists and an inspiring role model for women chemists from around the world.

Lecture Topic: “Chemistry in the Computer, Leveraging Computational Power for Evolving Approaches in Developing New Chemical Reactions”

Abstract: About 50 years ago, three short communications by Woodward and Hoffmann changed the relationship between chemistry and quantum chemistry. It became clear that computational chemistry could contribute to the understanding of structures and reactivity even with methods that could give only qualitative information. Methods have improved and present calculations give results that are accurate in many situations. However, interpretations using language and concepts that are shared by experimental and computational chemists are still and will be for a long time the driving force for the dialog between the two communities.

This dialog will be illustrated in the case of the structure and reactivity of transition metal molecular species. In these systems the variety of bonding situations, which determine structures and reactivity, could be understood without the contribution of calculations.

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Dr. Jean Gayon
- Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, Université de Paris
Lecture Topic: "Interdisciplinary Approaches to Human Enhancement"
Host: Dr. Margaret Schabas, Department of Philosophy, UBC
Visit Dates: mid November, 2013

Date, Time and Venue: November 15, 15:00-16:30, I.C. Barber Learning Centre, Room 182

Professor Gayon studied at the Université de Paris (1, 6, 7), completing advanced degrees in both philosophy and biology. After a Fulbright at Harvard, he taught in the Philosophy Department of the Université de Bourgogne, where he was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in 1990. He returned to Paris in 1997 and from 2001 has achieved the highest rank, “Professeur Classe exceptionnelle 2”, at the Université de Paris 1. His primary appointment is with the Institut d’Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques (IHPST), where he also serves as the Directeur.

He has received the Grammaticakis-Neuman Prize from the Académie des sciences de Paris, and is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences and of the Conseil scientifique de l’Un (Paris 1). He also has served on the Conseil scientifique du Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, and from 2000-2005, he served as a member of the adjudication committee for the Canada Research Chairs. Professor Gayon lists approximately 250 publications, including 19 books. He is a leading scholar in the history and philosophy of biology, with major works on Darwin, Buffon, and Bergson.

Lecture Title: "Interdisciplinary Approaches to Human Enhancement"

Abstract: Professor Gayon will unpack the semantic content of the term, then address the three meanings that are normally ascribed, namely the improvement of human capacities, the improvement of human nature, and self-improvement. The lecture will also distinguish between novel and traditional forms of improvement, with a focus on breeding, the Enlightenment appeals to human progress, and the more classical controversy in ethics regarding self-improvement and the attainment of the perfect life. Professor Gayon will imbed his analysis in the history of biology, both evolutionary theory and eugenics. In the course of the lecture, he will address conceptual issues that pertain to natural selection and to microbiology, and draw connections to philosophy of science.

Dernière modification : 14/11/2013

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